Advocacy Working Group
Most of our time is spent on advocacy. While Ottawa is a fairly bike-friendly city, cyclists have to make their voices heard. It is not that we bring the pitch forks out, but if you want to improve the city, you have to stay in touch with your city councillor, city staff, NCC staff, provincial and federal Members of Parliament, community groups and many more people.
Advocacy starts with understanding how the city works!
The city works with budgets and the planning for those budgets starts early. Once you start reading about it, you might be too late already. Further, you have to understand where the money comes from in order to know what you can ask for. The city gets money from taxes (like property tax) and from rates (like water and sewer bills). There are multi-year hard costs like road construction, building community centres etc and annual soft costs like staffing and advertising.
Start in time
The city doesn't just have money on the shelf for that bike lane you'd like to have tomorrow morning. Therefore, it is so important to start years in advance. A rule of thumb is 5 years. It is important that you start to mobilise people or join an existing group, approach your own city councillor, design a vision that the city could finance with some effort and clearly communicate the benefit for all citizens.
Advocacy Working Group
In order to coordinate our eforts, we have a special advocacy working group. The group meets regularly. Membersbring in their specialties Some love to write, others love to dig through the budget. Combined, all these individuals bring a lot of knowledge to the table.
Understanding the City Budget
At our request, Charles Akben-Marchand prepared a primer on 'understanding the city budget'. Most cities work the same, so it might also apply to your city. If you understand the budget you can campaign much more effectively. Without explanation, you might find it a wee hard to grasp, but it is a good start. Here is Charles' presentation in PDF (2.8 Mb), given at our Spring.Bike.Ottawa event in March 2014; it is pretty timeless though.
What are we working on?
Presentation to NCC about pathways (june 2015 - 1.1 MB)
Presentation to Councillor Taylor about ward issues (june 2015 - 2.8 MB)
Presentation to Councillor Chiarelli about ward issues (June 2015, - 3.1 MB)